Monday, May 22, 2000
'Dinosaur' Gets a Colossal Jump on Summer
Box Office * Animated Disney film begins preseason rampage in a weekend that sees top 12 movies gross more than $100 million.
By RICHARD NATALE, Special to The Times
Box office temperatures rose to mid-summer levels over the pre-Memorial Day weekend with the top 12 movies grossing more than $100 million, led by Disney's rampaging "Dinosaur." The technologically daring computer-animated film stomped its way to a gigantic $38.6-million debut, the year's biggest opening so far. For slightly older kids, "Road Trip" grossed-out its way to a sizable $15-million opening, behind the still formidable "Gladiator," which took in $19.1 million. And even Woody Allen's comedy "Small Time Crooks" made it to the big time with a good $3.8 million on only 865 screens.
Meanwhile, the much-maligned "Battlefield Earth" was already history in its second weekend, plummeting a disastrous 67% from its shaky debut to a minuscule $3.8 million in 3,307 nearly empty theaters.
"Dinosaur," which has been in production for nearly a decade with a reported $200-million budget, wowed critics with its technical achievements even if the story was found wanting. But the Disney formula proved unstoppable, and the groundbreaking mixture of computer animation and live-action backgrounds seems to have justified its mammoth cost--which includes constructing an expensive digital studio.
But "Battlefield Earth" is now officially a disaster, with word-of-mouth spreading like poison; it averaged only $1,100 a screen in its second weekend.